By Charlie Mitchell
OXFORD – With a new year impending, there are signs and songs aplenty on the political scene.
Bill Luckett, Delta lawyer and “binisman” (in Haley-speak) is handing out bumper stickers that read, “Mule-Headed Farmers For Bill.”
The slogan turns what was seen as a gaffe into a big plus, destined for the textbooks of campaignery.
There were gasps when super-Mississippian Morgan Freeman, who is supporting Luckett, his restaurant partner and friend, for the Democratic nomination for governor, told The Associated Press, “Reform in Mississippi is hard because the base stock of this state is a mule-headed bunch of farmers.”
But the bumper stickers make lemonade from lemons, and may be followed by a larger array: Mule-Headed Teachers for Bill, Mule-Headed waiters, welders, washerwomen.
Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant is heir apparent, at least for the Republican nomination, when Haley departs. Bryant has done his due diligence at every Rotary Club in Mississippi. He intends to get the nomination because he’s worked for it, but there are rivals on the horizon – including “binis” genius and philanthropist Dave Dennis. Remember 16 years ago when Vicksburg’s Kirk Fordice took on the GOP establishment and “whipped its …?” So does Dave Dennis, but he’s a lot nicer guy.
Rumblings from the Gulf Coast, where Dennis is better known, say Bryant (who can do it) is singing Elvis’ “Blue Suede Shoes,” with particular emphasis on the intro. Remember, “One for the money, two for the show…” (Dennis will have money; Bryant will need it.) For Christmas, word has it that Bryant mailed Dennis a CD of Barbara Streisand belting out “Don’t Rain On My Parade.”
Singing another financial tune is state Sen. Doug Davis, R-Hernando. Appointed by Bryant to follow new U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee as chairman of Senate Appropriations, Davis has Tom Waits’ version of “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” on an audio loop in his office.
Also prowling the Capitol halls is Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville. Holland, once as rotund as the rotunda, has been surgically slimmed. He looks good, so good in fact he’s walking up to strangers and telling “Yo Mama So Fat” jokes.
House Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, is in full voice. A wave of ultra-conservative election year politicking threatens his coalition. Walk by his office and listen. “I’m a Lonely Little Petunia in an Onion Patch” wafts through his door.
U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, once one of three House Democrats from Mississippi will start the new year as one of, well, one. That doesn’t really concern him. Very little does. It might be hard to picture him singing a Taylor Swift tune, but word is his lullaby is “Untouchable.” He’s said to be particularly fond of the line, “In the middle of the night when I’m in this dream; it’s like a million little stars spelling out your name,” to which he adds B-E-N-N-I-E.
Not so euphoric is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. She’s been reported circling the city in her Air Force jet. The Bose system is playing her new anthem, “Those Were The Days My Friend.” A tiny tear was said to have dropped into her champagne flute at the refrain, “We thought they’d never end; we’d sing and dance forever and a day; we’d live the life we choose; we’d fight and never lose …”
Down at ground level, Tea Party designees are moving in, replacing Pelosi’s furniture with their own. They have their stereos on, too, tuned to D.C.’s only country station. A cheer goes up every time Roy Clark’s classic, “Thank God and Greyhound She’s Gone” is played.
Now Pelosi is losing clout, not her job. Same for Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., over in the Senate. He has a Beatles tune on his mind. It’s “Help” and he sings louder on the lyric, “And now my life has changed in oh so many ways. My independence seemed to vanish in the haze.”
At the White House, no one is singing, but there are reports President Obama’s agent is in talks to get him a gig as a game show host in a couple of years. Democrats, not at all pleased with their chief’s negotiating clout, say he will emcee a new version of “Let’s Make A Deal.” Unlike in Monty Hall’s day, there will be no zonks. Contestants will just ask for whatever they want and get it.
And, of course, we can’t forget about Haley. Pedestrians say Gov. Barbour is often seen walking in the downtown area, always with his iPod.
They’re not sure what tune is streaming into his ears, but when he passes at close range they say it sounds a lot like, “Hail To The Chief.”
Charlie Mitchell is a Mississippi journalist. Write to him at Box 1, University, MS 38677, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.